Fort Collins, Colo. (AP) - A 6-year-old boy climbed into a homemade balloon aircraft in Colorado and floated away Thursday, forcing officials to scramble to figure out how to rescue the boy as the balloon hurtled through the air.
The bizarre scene played out live on television and prompted fears that the flying saucer-shaped balloon would crash with the young child inside. The balloon rotated slowly in the wind, tipping precariously at times.
Cathy Davis of the Larimer County Sheriff's Department told reporters the balloon was owned by the boy's parents and tethered behind the family's home. She said two sons were playing outside when the older boy saw the younger one go into a compartment at the bottom of the balloon and fly away.
"We'll just have to respond the best we can," Davis said. "This is a first and we'll do what we need to do."
She said the family was in contact with experts to provide details on the craft, including what it's made of and what might happen when it reaches the ground.
The Colorado Army National Guard was preparing to launch an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter to help in the response effort, said Capt. Michael Odgers. It wasn't immediately clear what role the helicopter would play.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency is tracking the balloon through reports from pilots and that air traffic control facilities in the region are aware of the situation.
Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said the device had the potential to rise to 10,000 feet. Sheriff's officials last saw the device floating south of Milliken, which is about 40 miles north of Denver.
"We were sitting eating, out looking where they normally shoot off hot air balloons. My husband said he saw something. It went over our rooftop. Then we saw the big round balloonish thing, it was spinning," said neighbor Lisa Eklund.
Additional details about the child and the balloon were not immediately available.
"By the time I saw it, it traveled pretty fast," Eklund said.
A 6-year-old boy climbed into a homemade balloon aircraft in Colorado and floated away Thursday, forcing officials to scramble to figure out how to rescue the boy as the balloon hurtled through the air.